May 18, 2011

Blackbird's in Astoria

41-19 30th Ave.
Astoria, NY 11103

This trip started with an email I got from our correspondent in the field, BJ:
"Meant to text you yesterday, but I went for a nice long walk yesterday, ended up at a place called Blackbirds, solid place, nice, laid back (at least during the weekend/day), also there was a really cute bartender, she looked like a redheaded Amy Poehler. 
Anywhoozles, she and a couple of patrons told me that they believe the wings there are the best in NY.  I said, “Best in NY?  That’s bold, are you sure you don’t mean best in NYC or Queens or Astoria?”  They assured me that they meant best in NY.  So, challenge thrown down…"
I agreed. That's a mighty bold statement. To say you not only have the best wings in NYC, but all of New York is pretty gutsy. You don't need me to tell you that Buffalo, home of the hot wing, the Mecca, falls into this jurisdiction. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the magnitude of this claim. For me, if you're saying you have the best wings in all of New York, you might as well be saying you have the best wings in the country. And if you're saying that, you might as well be saying you have the best wings in the world. Wow. Could it be possible that the best wings on the face of the planet were right under our noses in Astoria? Obviously I assembled a team to find out.

Original tipster, BJ, fellow food blogger, Lee (2plus2 NYC Review) and I met at Blackbirds on a Wednesday night. Wednesdays are great because they have half priced wings and four dollar draught beers served in mason jars. Already I liked their style. Bring on the wings. As per usual, the BBQ did nothing for me. I had to test them out though, for science. They were just your typical, sweet, slighlty tangy wing that I've never been too fond of. I will say though that there was a nice coat of sauce, so if you're into BBQ there's a good chance you'll like these.

They also offer mild, hot and Nuclear. Since BJ is a huge wuss and can't take the heat, we ended up going with mild. These were solid. The flavor was a very traditional hot sauce and butter concoction. It was a bit tangy, which I like, a tad salty, which I also like and, considering we ordered mild, there was a decent amount of heat. It was still enough to make BJ sweat, although he'd break a sweat if we replaced the sauce with ketchup so I don't know if that's saying much.

In general, the wings were cooked pretty well with a great crisp but they were a little on the skimpy side. The flavors were solid but nothing ground breaking. Would I eat them again? Absolutely. Were they the best wings ever known to mankind? Probably not. Blackbirds was a pretty cool place though with a good beer selection and friendly service. Plus I always like hanging out in that part of Astoria. I can recommend it as a good place to meet up with some friends and catch up over a cold beer and some wings while watching the game.

May 16, 2011

O'neills Is The Latest Wing Spot To Fall Victim To Fire

[Queens Courier] A 5-alarm fire engulfed O’Neill’s Restaurant in Maspeth [on May 1st] sending six fire fighters to the hospital.

The call came in just after midnight of a fire at 64-21 53rd Drive. The fifth alarm came after 3 a.m. and the fire was under control at 3:23 a.m.

One hundred and ninety-eight fire fighters responded to the scene. The six injured were taken to Elmhurst hospital.

O’Neill’s Restaurant has been a Maspeth fixture since 1933. There is no known cause of the fire. An investigation is under way.

"O'Neill's Restaurant has been a staple in Maspeth," said Conuncilmember Elizabeth Crowley. "Last night's tragic fire was a loss for the whole community."

Well, I don't know how I'm going to break this news to Jeremy. This is one of his favorite wing joints. I'm really kicking myself now for never having made it there. I can't tell you how many times I told Jeremy we should go and then one thing or another came up. Well, RIP O'neills. Hopefully you can pull through and reopen a new location in the future.

- Thanks to Joe Piscatella for the heads up.